Mid-Life Crisis

As I was driving to work one day this week I was listening to Radio 5 Live when professional misery-guts Nicky Campbell read out a message that he had received from a listener. Said listener was bemoaning the fact that as a middle-aged, white man he was now a member of the only part of society that, in his opinion, it was OK to lampoon and ‘offend’ with impunity. And he wanted it to stop.

And as a middle-aged (fucking 40 next year. 40. Forty!) white (near transparent) man (biologically proven) I couldn’t help but listen to this opinion and think “Shut the fuck up! Take your white privilege chip off your shoulder and shove it up your arse!”

Let’s examine where this man was coming from. He now lives in a world were it is illegal to discriminate against people because of their sex, their race, their sexual orientation. It’s no longer acceptable to casually poke fun at ‘bints’, or ‘pakis’, or ‘puffs’ and this man felt that he should air his view that it should therefore not be acceptable to roast the average middle-aged white man. That’s equality you see.

And he clearly has a point. It is, let us not forget, a little over 100 years since white, middle-aged men had to chain themselves to the gates of Parliament and throw themselves in front of the King’s horse in order to have the right to vote. Before this time, in the previous 200,000 years of homosapien existence on Earth, white, middle-aged men were very much a second class citizen.

In 1955 a white, middle-aged man was arrested in the US for refusing to move from the ‘blacks only’ seats on a bus. This was a huge moment in the white, middle-aged man civil rights movement. White, middle-aged men were historically enslaved, tarred, feathered, lynched and continue to fight against stereotypes to be seen as ‘equal’. We need to stop taking the piss out of them.

Fucking hell, being a white, middle-aged man was even illegal until 1967. Who couldn’t fail to be moved by the story of Alan Turing, mathematician and war hero, who was arrested and convicted for simply being a middle-aged, white man. Choosing to be chemically castrated, and then taking his own life rather than continue to live with the social ‘shame’ of being a middle-aged, white man. And yet the discrimination continues.

It’s 2017 and a ‘middle-aged’, white man has just become President of the USA. Please continue to take the piss. Left unchecked middle-aged, white men will make everyone’s lives a fucking misery. Especially if we’re driving to work and listening to their ‘woe is me’ bullshit.


The Neighbour Principle

Regular readers of my irregularly updated blog will know that I am not a religious man. I don’t care if you are. I don’t care what you are. Believe that you were created from dust or a rib. Believe that you were moulded from clay and given life from a magic spark. Hey, believe that we are all evolved from extra terrestrials that crash landed here millions of years ago. Believe what you like. I care not one jot.

But if you claim to be religious. If, for example, you place your left hand on the Bible and say … oh, I don’t know … something like:

“I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God.”

You should, perhaps, follow the teachings of God. You should, as you’ve just sworn, let him ‘help’ you.

So, if you’re reading Donald, which you surely are, as it’s a Sunday and we all know that Presidency trading hours on a Sunday are greatly reduced, I thought I would draw your attention to this little nugget from Luke 10: 30-37.

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

You see, Donald, it doesn’t matter who the vulnerable are. It doesn’t matter if they’re a Muslim. It doesn’t matter if they’re from a predominantly Muslim country. If they need our help we should help them. Not ban them.

Donald, you’re passing by on the other side. And you should be ashamed. But I doubt you care.

We need to keep fighting this kind of ignorance. In whatever small way we can.

An Opinion Piece

I recently posted something on Facebook asking what I should have for my dinner. I backed up my question with the added caveat that I didn’t actually care about the opinion of 99.8% of my Facebook friends. It was a joke. Obviously. It’s actually more like 99.9%. But at the same time it wasn’t a joke. I don’t really care for the opinions of others. There is a very small select ‘group’ of people whose opinion actually matters to me. And I’m willing to bet that you’re the same and yet, it doesn’t stop us giving our opinion, does it?


I’m personally quite opinionated. There are people reading this now, who know me pretty well, that are laughing at my use of the word ‘quite’. I’m very opinionated. But that’s ok, because what I think is correct. Because I think it. You, on the other hand, might not think what I think and therefore that makes you wrong. I won’t always tell you. And sometimes, to my shame, I won’t always challenge opinions that are particularly offensive because I can’t be bothered to get into an argument. As a wise person once told me “you can’t argue with stupid”. (I did once, however, get into an argument with a man on crutches who was being overtly, casually racist at a cinema … that’s right Chris, pick on the disabled you brave bastard. Although, technically, he was armed).


Which brings us to the great paradox. Opinions matter. And opinions don’t matter. It’s knowing when and where to air those opinions that is sometimes the difficult thing.I don’t like beans. Baked beans! Food of the devil, in my opinion. The taste, the texture, the smell of baked beans makes me gag. But then so does brushing my teeth, the thought of brushing my teeth and, on some occasions, breathing, so that’s perhaps not the greatest of reasons for hating baked beans. But I do. With a passion. And I’ll tell you this, gladly. Especially if you’re eating them in front of me. “I don’t like beans”. And you’ll look at me, and you’ll smile, and you’ll say “I know. You tell me every fucking time I eat them. And I don’t care.” And you don’t and you’ll continue to eat them in front of me. It’s my opinion and it doesn’t really matter.


This week it was the opinion of a number of people that Helen Skelton’s skirt was too short whilst she was presenting the Olympic swimming on the BBC. Her skirt was too short. Whilst she was presenting the swimming. At the Olympics. The swimming. The most ‘naked’ of all the sports. At the Olympics. A sporting event founded thousands of years ago by the ancient Greeks where all competitors performed in the nude. If you’re offended by a short skirt you really shouldn’t be allowed to watch the swimming. Not only are they wearing next to nothing but they’re also all very wet. It’s virtually porn. Again, it’s your opinion and it doesn’t really matter. But in context, it’s a ridiculously hypocritical opinion bordering on Victorian levels of prudish stupidity and you should have definitely kept it to yourself.


That’s just my opinion of course. But, I’m right. And if you don’t agree, you’re wrong.


Last month, the MP Jess Philips posted a photograph on Twitter of a locksmith changing her locks at her home because she had received death threats as a result of refusing to back Jeremy Corbyn. The result of this photograph? Several more threats to her personal safety and people advising her that she should have kept this to herself. Earlier in the year she received over 600 threats in one night as a result of launching a campaign against sexist online bullying. You couldn’t make it up.


But what about freedom of speech? Surely you can say whatever you like. It’s your opinion. Well, you can. Of course you can. But also you can’t. When that opinion, that you have said out loud or broadcast through social media, becomes a crime. But, surely that’s not fair? Freedom of speech!


We are fortunate enough to live in a country where we are pretty much free to go and do whatever we want. Until we kill someone, of course. Until we commit a crime. We’re not allowed to do that. Why do people readily accept that actions can be criminal and yet words cannot. Speaking, writing, publishing, posting is an action and therefore has limits. We do have freedom of speech. It’s a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t give people the right to air any old opinion without thought.


I always equate the “freedom of speech” excuse in the face of saying something offensive with the “ … but I’m an adult” declaration. Any teenager that responds with “… but I’m an adult” after being told they have to be home for 10.30pm clearly isn’t one and needs to be in much earlier for a bedtime story and a glass of warm milk.


To sum up, some opinions matter and some opinions don’t. But, my opinions and the opinions of the 0.1% are always correct. Think on.


“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Je suis Paris

I am not a religious man. I may have mentioned this before. Several times in fact. I might even say it again.

I am not a religious man. But …

… we find ourselves, once again, staring into the aftermath of a tragic global event carried out by persons with an agenda to spread terror into the lives of innocent people. How we respond to this event in the days, weeks and years that follow is as important as how we respond to it today.

We must remember that these events were not carried out by religions, they were carried out by people. People who may be a different religion and people who may use that religion as a shield or as a motive, but ultimately people who are not acting as true representatives of that religion.

Religions do not preach hate. People preach hate. People use ideology and twist it to excuse their actions. Some people like doing bad things. They like spreading fear. They like to bully and terrorise. And they like an excuse.

I’m willing to bet that Richard the Lionheart loved a good dust-up. Nothing he liked better than a good fight. But he couldn’t just kill people. He’d need a reason. A cause to fight for. An ideology to pin his emblem to.

It’s been going on for thousands of years. By numerous people ‘representing’ numerous religions. And as individuals there is not much we can do about it …

… except of course, we can. We can choose not to be one of those people. We can choose to be a person that doesn’t lash out using religion as an excuse. A person that doesn’t blame a religion, or people who follow that same religion, for acts they had no control over. And we can influence the people around us, the people who may listen to us, to think the same.

We don’t shout at people. We don’t tell them that they’re wrong. We explain. Calmly. Why we won’t tolerate intolerance any more. Why we won’t accept the spread of fear. Why we won’t be one of those people.

Terrorists do not represent religions. They do not represent the millions of people who believe in the same god as them. They represent themselves and only themselves. And the way we start to beat them is by standing together. All cultures, all religions, all ideologies and say “not in my name”.

And why should you listen to me? You shouldn’t. I’m not the Archbishop of Anywhere. Or King Dick of Wigan. I’m just a man with an opinion. Just one man. But in the days and weeks and years to come we need to remember who is to blame for the deaths in Paris and who is not. And we need to remember the innocent people who are affected by this. The innocent people who have died. The innocent people who have lost loved ones. And the innocent people who don’t deserve any blame.


FIFA Eyes Only

Yesterday was a strange day, wasn’t it?

We’ve had the super moon this week, which had turned into a giant satsuma by 3am, and got Professor Brian Cox all excited like he’d just found it in his Christmas stocking with a string bag full of un-cracked walnuts and a packet of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit. But yesterday was stranger than that.

It had also been revealed this week, by one of the upstanding red tops, that Posh and Becks were now officially richer than the Queen. This was front page news. This isn’t news. It’s no surprise that they’re actually richer than the Queen, if you think about it. They both work for a living for a start. But yesterday was stranger than that.

The rule of three would now dictate that I write about another news story. Wringing a little humour out of it before finally getting to the point of my blog. But, I’m not going to do that. Some things are more important than jokes. Because, you see, yesterday was even stranger than that last sentence being written by me.

Yesterday, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa and Budweiser called for Sepp Blatter to immediately resign.

Coca-Cola kicked it off by saying: “Everyday that passes, FIFA’s image and reputation continues to tarnish.”

This is a company who, in 2006, were accused of causing water shortages in India. They think Blatter’s actions have gone too far. That Blatter tarnishes FIFA’s reputation more so than say whole areas of the Indian sub-continent not being able to water their crops, tarnished Coca-Cola’s reputation.

Only this year, workers at McDonald’s went on strike because their newly announced pay rises were actually fucking over any workers that worked at a ‘restaurant’ (and I use that word very loosely) not owned by the company itself. If you worked for a restaurant that was a franchise you could kiss that pay rise goodbye. And McDonald’s think Blatter should go.

I mean, they have a point, but it’s a hypocritical smackdown of huge proportions. It’s like Hitler and Stalin having a Who’s the Biggest Tyrant? competition. Oh. Hang on. They did. That was what World War II was, wasn’t it?

Blatter has refused to go, of course. He sat back in his hollowed-out volcano home and released a statement which declared that Sepp Ernst Stavro Blofeld Blatter would not be resigning as it “would not be in the best interest of FIFA, nor would it advance the process of reform” … and besides, he couldn’t possibly leave until February 2016 because that’s how long it will take him to shred all his bank statements.

Sepp Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Sepp Ernst Stavro Blofeld Blatter

Greg Dyke, the chairman of the FA, won yesterday on penalties, however, when he declared  that:

“It doesn’t matter what Mr Blatter says now. If the people who pay for FIFA want a change they will get a change. For those of us who want fundamental change, this is good news.”

That’s right, Greg. It is good news, isn’t it? Off the back of a scandal where a man has clung to power due to corruption and bribery, and an organisation that now seemingly wants to prove that football is more important than money, it’s excellent news that Blatter may finally be removed because some financial heavyweights have moved in. After all nobody knows that money talks better than FIFA. How is this change, dickhead? It’s just more of the bloody same.

But should we be surprised? Was yesterday really such a strange day? Corruption thrives at the top of any organisation. There is little we can do to stop it from happening. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight it when we discover it. That we shouldn’t take on the Blatter’s of the World. They’ve been getting away with it for too long. So pack your bags, Sepp. Take responsibility for what you’ve done. And if you’re feeling a little sorry for yourself, do you know what always cheers me up? A Happy Meal and a Coke.

The Irish Problem

It’s quite clear, based on my surname, that I am of Irish descent. Both my paternal and maternal lineage can be traced back to the Emerald Isle. As of this moment, I don’t actually know when my ancestors upped sticks and crossed the Irish Sea to take up residence in England. None of the relatives that I knew where born in Ireland and I can only guess that it was during the 19th century or earlier that my particular branch of the Boyle family tree floated its way over.

Recent events have made me think about this more and more lately. The truth of the matter is that I am not, strictly speaking, English. I am the descendent of immigrants.

Let’s assume that my ancestors were forced to come to England because of the infamous potato famine. Faced with the prospect of poverty and hunger, and seeking a better life, let’s assume that my great-great-great whoever came to England searching for work and a more comfortable future. Could I imagine what kind of welcome he would have received? After a very quick trawl on the internet it seems that I don’t have to imagine. I simply have to switch on the news.

Racism towards the Irish is a matter of historical fact and in Victorian Britain they were portrayed by the media as alcoholics who monopolised certain, low paid, job markets (sound familiar?). They were often depicted in political cartoons as apes and regarded as an inferior race.


At the time, the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli stated:

“The Irish hate our order, our civilisation, our enterprising industry, our pure religion. This wild, reckless, indolent, uncertain and superstitious race have no sympathy with the English character. Their ideal of human felicity is an alternation of clannish broils and coarse idolatry. Their history describes an unbroken circle of bigotry and blood.”

Nowadays, I’m sure he’d include the word “swarm” in there somewhere.

So, now let’s look across the channel to Calais and ask ourselves “what’s changed?” In the 150 years of ‘progress’, how have our attitudes changed towards people seeking a better life? People fleeing poverty, disease, genocide? The answer appears to be that it hasn’t. We will still demonise these people. Portray them as an epidemic swarming across the continent to rip our country apart.

“But we need to look after our own!”

They are our own. They are human beings. And you may have to have waited in a three hour queue on a motorway to get on a train. You may have had the start of your holiday ruined. But then again, you’ve never seen your village destroyed by war and spent weeks travelling in horrendous conditions hoping to escape it? Have you? Only to be met with hostility and the assumption that you have the magical ability to affect house prices in Kent?

And do you know what? I’m one of the lucky ones. A hundred years later and nobody bats an eyelid at my pasty complexion and suspiciously gingery beard. My English accent disguises my foreign heritage. For a number of refugees entering this country their children and their children’s children will still live with the suspicion and the hatred. It’s time it stopped. It’s time we all stopped and helped. And we can start by all being a little more sympathetic and thinking about the reasons why these people are risking their lives to enter this country. It’s not, as The Daily Mail would have you believe, for a £35 a week handout. A life is worth more than that.

Feminism rules, OK!

Let’s do a quiz. I like quizzes. But don’t worry, it’s not going to be one of those quizzes. You know? Those quizzes where you answer 12 questions and then the internet reveals which one of Pablo Picasso’s paintbrushes you were in a former life. Not a quiz like that. A proper quiz. A simple one. So get a pen and paper. Go on. We’ll wait for you …

… incidentally, I was his fan-shaped blender. Badger hair bristles. He dipped me in the red paint …

… are you back? Good.

So, here’s your starter for ten: List as many historical figures as you can in 20 seconds. Go!

Keep going. Go on. You can do it. 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1. And, stop! Well done.

Now, here’s your bonus question: How many men did you list before you wrote down your first woman?

Six? Ten? More than ten? Perhaps Florence Nightingale snuck in at number 3 but you still had more men than women, right? Now, why is that?

It cannot be denied that there have been strong women throughout history. Boadicea. Marie Curie. Emmeline Pankhurst. All famous names and yet, for some reason, not quite as readily retrievable at the forefront of our minds. Why? Perhaps it’s as simple a thing as us not being taught about them in school. It appears that women in history are fighting the same battle as women today for equal status within society. Being judged in the same way.


Lets take Elizabeth I as a prime example. A woman whose mother was executed by her most manly of fathers. A woman who survived numerous assassination attempts. A woman who had the body of a weak and feeble woman but the heart and stomach of a king. Self-depreciation in order to survive in a man’s world was obviously all the rage in 1588 as well. One of our most famous and revered monarchs. And how does history remember her? As The Virgin Queen. The monarch who failed to produce an heir. The woman who didn’t have any children. Forget everything else she did. Elizabeth I is remembered for not being a mother. In a way that no king would be judged for not being a father.

The rules are different for women. The game might be the same but the rules are different.


In 2016 Hillary Clinton might make history. She might become the first female president of the United States of America. And we all know that her entire election campaign will be dominated by media coverage of what her hair looks like or what trouser suit she’s wearing. Hillary Clinton’s shoe choice will face tougher scrutiny than George W. Bush’s foreign policy ever did. And the world will put up with it. Because when you’re a woman those are the rules.

Well, bollocks to the rules! And vaginas too! It’s time the rules were standardised. It’s time we all saw sense. Feminism is not a female only issue. It’s an issue for any woman or any man anywhere and everywhere. Men! Women are subjected to these rules every day and we’re not. And we need to stand up and be counted.

“But men are judged on their appearance too!”

No, they’re not. Not in the same way and you bloody know it. So, stop it.

Enough is enough. We need to join them, not judge them. Be proud to be a feminist. I am.

It’s all meme, meme, meme!


Before I start I’d just like to say that I love my mum. Very much. I love her more than any other mum in the whole universe. And my dad. I love him too. More than all the other dads.

I also think that every member of the armed forces are doing a sterling job wherever they are in the world. As are the nurses. The fire brigade. The paramedics. The police force. That PC Plod off Noddy singlehandedly keeps Toytown free of all the riffraff and I’ve not even seen a single glue sniffer hanging around Big Ears’ house looking to scrounge a plastic bag and a Pritt stick. They’re all bloody brilliant.

Neither is it a bad thing that we share this. That we let these people know. NHS staff have been on strike today. For a 1% pay rise. Good for bloody them. And we should be supporting them to the bloody hilt.

But, we do have to be careful how we show this support. Blindly sharing statuses that seem to support our troops or call for us to ‘Save Our NHS’ could be promoting something much worse if we don’t take a little time to examine who is posting these memes.

Right-wing groups on Facebook are taking advantage of the good intentions of the population. Love your mum. Wear your poppy with pride next month. But also think before you share … unless its this blog … just share this without thinking.

Bedtime for Bonzo

On the 30th March 1981 John Hinkley Jr. attempted to assassinate the then President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

He did this because he was trying to impress Jodie Foster. Or, so he said.

If he had been successful and managed to have killed Reagan, what would that have meant for Jodie Foster?

Would she have been expected to make a statement condemning this murder that had been committed in her name? Or, would we all have just assumed that because most sane-thinking people believe murder is morally wrong that she didn’t approve of Hinkley’s actions, whether she said so or not?

What would have happened if she’d simply remained silent?

Perhaps all her films would now be seen as propaganda in order to indoctrinate the people of the world to turn to evil. Kids would see the use of splurge guns in Bugsy Malone as a call to arms. The identity swapping antics of Freaky Friday would now be regarded as a coded message for children of all races to replace their parents and cause anarchy around the world …

“Let’s overthrow the Government kids, Jodie Foster thinks it’s ok!”

In an attempt to stop Foster’s evil message we could all take to the streets and burn down any cinema showing Disney’s Candleshoe. That’s the only way of stopping the hate and the murder. To fight fire with fire.

And yet, that’s ridiculous, isn’t it?

It’d be like blaming every Christian for the actions of Peter Sutcliffe because he claimed he was on a mission from God. Luckily, they wrote him out of The Blues Brothers.

And yet …

Over the past couple of months IS have been committing horrendous crimes in the name of Islam.  Or, so they say.

Crimes that the world and the vast majority of muslims condemn. In that time, on several social media platforms, I have seen people seemingly asking why every single muslim has not come out against these actions? Suggesting that their silence shows their approval for what IS are doing.

Well it doesn’t. No more than my silence means I agree with every white, Northern atheist that commits a crime. Every muslim hasn’t come out and condemned these actions because they don’t have to. In the same way that I don’t have to. Because we all know they condemn them.

IS do not commit these crimes in the name of Islam. It’s not their motive, it’s their excuse.

And, until we all realise this and stop looking to blame innocent millions for the actions of the few, we should all probably take that copy of Silence of the Lambs we’ve got in our DVD collection and burn it in the back garden until we all come to our senses.

Promises, promises

This is Samuel Webster.

IMG_0071He’s my great uncle. My nan’s eldest brother … which is me being either patronising or helpful depending on your point of view. If you are lucky enough to actually know me you’ll have a pretty good idea of which one I was actually aiming for.

He was born in 1899. Twenty-seven years before my nan was born. And he died on the 28th September 1918. Exactly 62 years before my sister was born. In Belgium. Aged just 19. From “wounds” … less than seven weeks before the First World War ended.

He’s always been someone I’ve known about from being quite young. I can remember my mum pointing out his name on the cenotaph outside the church attached to my primary school when I was little. It didn’t mean that much to me back then, I suppose. Other than my great uncle’s name being carved in stone for everyone to see. That was pretty cool.

I do have a bit of a thing for cenotaphs. I can’t walk past one without taking a photograph. I’m like a cenotaph paparazzi. A cenotaph super fan. If there was a monthly magazine all about cenotaphs you can bet I’d have every copy stacked in chronological order and all the centrefolds would be well thumbed.

A quick Google search for “cenotaph magazine” has just revealed that no such magazine exists, thank goodness.

With it being the centenary of the start of the First World War this year my great uncle Sam has been on my mind a little. Using Every Man Remembered I managed to find whereabouts in Belgium he is buried and my mum and I both left commemorations for him.

But, more than just that, he started me thinking about unfulfilled promise. About how a 19 year old man with his whole life ahead of him … career, wife, children … lost all of that due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There have been a number of moments in my life where I have taken stock. Thought about who I am and what I’m doing. Made me think about whether I’m making the most of everything. About whether I’m fulfilling that promise that I had when I was 19. Or even whether I’m fulfilling the promise I still have at 36 (yes, I’m only 36). On each of those occasions I have made decisions to tweak my life a little. To do more of the things that make me happy. To be bolder. To be less afraid of living.

But I am afraid. I worry about the decisions I’ve made. The decisions I’ll make in the future. I’m scared of the unfulfilled promise. Scared of the hope. Scared of the disappointments. And, then I think of my great uncle Sam. About the fear he must have faced in the last year of his life and I wonder if I’ll ever be brave enough to one day have my name carved onto anything.